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knee pain in western saddle

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  • knee pain in western saddle

    Hubby is very much a beginner, but has a nice Billy Cook with the fenders twisted so the stirrups lie correctly. He's been complaining of knee pain. Most of his riding is done at a walk with a bit of slow trot. Very little bit.

    I've never has knee pain while riding. Any ideas what could be causing it? It happened in his old saddle too, even with the little metal stirrup twisty things.

  • #2
    First, make sure his stirrups aren't too short. Standing up he should be able to get 2 fingers between crotch and saddle . Is he keeping his heels down?

    Sometimes its just new muscles being used and takes a little time. Knee pain hurts though. I've had it before so bad I could hardly dismount....and I've been a rider for many, many years.

    If all else fails...get a pair of the EZ Ride stirrups...I really like mine. Got them after having a broken ankle.http://www.easycareinc.com/Other_Pro..._Stirrups.aspx I DO beleive they are better than the knock-offs too.
    "My treasures do not sparkle or glitter, they shine in the sunlight and nicker to me in the night"


    • #3
      My knees hurt after any length of time in a Western saddle. I ride with a very long stirrup, so stirrup length may or may not be an issue. It's just the way the fender locks the leg into position. My conformation from the knee down contributes, I'm sure. I'm kind of knock-kneed and if you drop a straight line down from the center of my knee, it hits the ground next to the inside of my foot. Apparently this does not agree with riding Western as I've never been able to ride comfortably with the leg locked in place like that for any length of time.

      In any case, perhaps try an English saddle and see if the pain goes away. It does for me, completely. There are some English endurance saddles that have a lot more substance than a regular English saddle but still have an English style stirrup leather.


      • #4
        Are his stirrup leathers wrapped and twisted? This method is quite popular here with the Trail Rider's groups, folks who spend a lot of time in the saddle, often a Western saddle.

        I have done this to my Western saddle, but have not had time to go riding in it yet! Stirrups with this done hang to allow leg and foot to slide into position when mounted, no pull from fender trying to be flat again, to affect the knee.

        Kind of hard to explain, but the fender strap down from adjustment buckle is wrapped to be round with a leather lace to just above where stirrup is located. Then wrapped part is kind of half twisted to fasten back into the buckle holder. It makes the stirrup hang sideways, so foot is correctly positioned when you put it in the stirrup. I also have a hobble strap just above the stirrup to hold the fender and straps in place.

        My local tack store does this for you if you want fenders changed for comfort

        My old saddle has the softest fenders, bent to go around your leg over the years. Still have a TINY bit of pull so my knee feels it. With the young horse coming along who doesn't fit the old saddle, I thought trying the wrap idea was worth trying. Now I just need to get riding and see if this has fixed things for my knee!!


        • #5
          Also watch him ride and see if he's gripping with his legs/knees. Some green riders will do that without realizing they're doing that and that can/does cause some really ouchy knees after riding.

          However it could also be just getting used to that saddle/riding in general or it could be that the saddle doesn't fit his shape. Not just the seat in size but also if the twist is too wide/narrow for him or if the seat pitches him either forward or backward...or if the stirrups hang down right and not too far forward or behind.
          You jump in the saddle,
          Hold onto the bridle!
          Jump in the line!


          • #6
            Have him ride without stirrups. He'll learn to have a better seat that way anyway.

            If that doesn't make the problem go away than maybe he needs to work on stretching his hip abductors. For me, that actually helps my knees ache less for some reason.

            Also, keep trying different western saddles until he finds one with a twist that agrees with him. The right saddle and some stretches (and frequent breaks out of the stirrups) and I can go all day.


            • #7
              I was having this problem and thought I was toooo young to have knee pain. I rode in a western saddle with much more pliable/supple leather on the stirrups and suddenly felt MUCH better. Seems my saddle just locks my leg into a bad position... so your DH may be having the same problem...
              Visit us at Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society - www.bluebonnetequine.org

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              • #8
                If he like his saddle, it fits him and the horse, you can always supple the leather and twist it. I have dunked the fenders in water, then twist the stirrups/fenders twice and place a stick through the stirrups, let it dry for a few days. A light application of neem oil after will help it stay pliable.
                When people show you who they truly are, believe them. Maya Angelou


                • Original Poster

                  The fenders are twisted, and since it's new I'm still storing it with a broom through the stirrups most of the time. He does like the seat and twist of this saddle, and it fits the horse very well (who is hard to fit). It seems to put him in a nice position, and I know at the walk he's not gripping. He does tend to ride with his foot too far into the stirrup. Not sure if that would make a difference? His leg is under him nicely when he's not trying to use it. He does really bring it back, to the point where it's on top of the back cinch, but he's working on that habit.

                  We haven't really oiled the saddle yet. Not sure if that would help? It does have the wider stirrups, but not anywhere near as wide as the ones linked.

                  He's definitely knock-kneed with fallen arches, but when he's ridden english he hated it, even in my dressage saddle.

                  He does slouch horribly. Would that make it worse? He's a beginner, so it's a lot to remember to sit up straight, heels down, leg doesn't go back on the stifle, etc.


                  • #10
                    I find it happens if on a long ride, where I don't have to use my legs much for guidance (I ride western, and love Billy Cook saddles). So I will take my feet out of the stirrups, and bend my legs, roll my ankles, etc, and then I'm good to go on.
                    There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams


                    • #11
                      Take the fenders off. They are just a pointless great swathe of stiff leather slapped over the stirrup leathers solely to hurt your knee. Neither me nor my husband (a competent beginner) can ride five minutes with the darn things without getting crippling pain. Meanwhile I ride 5+ every day in regular english stirrups. I don't see the point in them. Rip them off and throw them away.


                      • #12
                        I have a bad knee and it always hurts if I spend any length of time in a Western saddle. I think the fenders and stirrups just force my leg into a position which isn't comfortable for me. I usually end up taking my feet out of the stirrups, either periodically or for the rest of the ride, and that helps.


                        • #13
                          I used to have troubles with one knee all the time and discovered that it was with the way I had secured my girth. I used to use a knot until it clicked that my knee was always sore on that side. I started using the buckle and then running the excess latigo up and through the rear cinch loop. Made a huge difference for me.
                          Don't talk unless you can improve the silence.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by QuarterCanuck View Post
                            I used to have troubles with one knee all the time and discovered that it was with the way I had secured my girth. I used to use a knot until it clicked that my knee was always sore on that side. I started using the buckle and then running the excess latigo up and through the rear cinch loop. Made a huge difference for me.
                            ^ This. I had this problem for a long time, now I put my latigo through the cinch ring twice, use the buckle, and tuck the extra up in the cinch keeper. Makes a difference.

                            And really do check the stirrup length - my husband likes his stirrups too short because it makes him feel secure, kills his knees though.

                            Last thought, what kind of pants is he riding in? Getting a pair of Wranglers, Cinch or other riding jeans will make a big difference vs riding in Levis, Carharts or some other working man jeans.


                            • #15
                              The video, and this case the still, camera is your friend.

                              Have him mount up, sit normally (don't pose), and then take photos from front, back and side. Critique his seat and leg. This might well show the issue.

                              If not, then have him ride normally (don't pose) and video what he's actually doing. Then review the tape. There's a high probability the issue will be seat/posture related and it might not be actually in the leg.

                              It's possible that this saddle may prove unsuitable for a number of reasons. Keep the saddle replacement option open. It might also be a good idea to try a couple of other saddles to see if the same problem exists.

                              Take it one step and at time (just like you would when evaluating a problem with a horse ).

                              Good luck in the project.

                              Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


                              • #16
                                I've always found that if my butt/hips hurt, my stirrups are too long.....knee pain, they're too short.

                                He can always try these too. If you notice the top of the stirrup, one side is larger than the other. This helps to keep your foot flat in the stirrup instead of being torqued to the inside and up on the outside. Expensive but worth it. I got them on my tucker saddle and it has helped alot with my knee pain. They have the regular ones and the wide trail ones.



                                Good luck to him. That can be a long arduous journey to find what truly helps.



                                • #17
                                  I would certainly second (or third or fourth or whatever) the stirrups too short idea. That is a killer for knees. When people come ride at my friend's guest ranch, the beginners (and folks who haven't ridden in a while) always want stirrups short, then during the week they want them longer (knees complain!)

                                  And the saddle....it could very VERY well be a bad fit. I have ridden in uncomfortable saddles and changing stirrup length, not matter what I did, would not help. Just didn't fit me well. And, couldn't quite tell about yours, but new saddles take a while to soften up (I like to buy used, nice and soft and let someone ELSE break it in!!!). I would also have him sit in other saddles to see if its more comfortable, and really big enough for him. When people are crammed in a saddle, and have short stirrups, its pretty miserable!


                                  • #18
                                    He is doing this to himself

                                    He does tend to ride with his foot too far into the stirrup. Not sure if that would make a difference? His leg is under him nicely when he's not trying to use it. He does really bring it back, to the point where it's on top of the back cinch, but he's working on that habit.

                                    he is pressing down on the stirrup like it is a gas pedal- not consciously, or even visibly...but he is running his foot too far in, then pressing down for balance, and he's then rolling his ankles out just a bit as a result and tugging on the outside of his knee.

                                    A) get him some cushy bottomed stirrups- measure the neck of the stirrup so it fits the fenders.http://www.easycareinc.com/other_pro..._stirrups.aspx -- pssst get the leather or nylon ones - the aluminum stirrups will ding up your saddle when you toss the stirrup over the seat, and knock the crap out of your shins when you carry the saddle.

                                    B) Place his foot in the stirrup where it should be. Have him stand up/sit down/stand up/sit down at a halt and walk to put his legs under him- run your foot home and you can't do this. Slouch and you can't do this. He can do this at any time to check his position.


                                    • #19
                                      Try some angled/off-set stirrups, they can really help with knee torque.



                                      • #20
                                        I had knee pain in my old saddle so I had the stirrups turned and wrapped and I don't have issues anymore.
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